A "CATECHISM” FOR THE PRE-COLUMBIAN-TRANSOCEANIC-CONTACTS DEBATE
Stephen C. Jett
University of California, Davis
The question as to whether there were significant interinfluences between the Old and the New worlds before Christopher Columbus and Leif Ericson has generated debate, often rancorous, for generations. Having examined the evidence and the pro and con arguments and having given that evidence and those arguments a great deal of thought over half a century, I have firmly concluded that transoceanic contacts between the two hemispheres go back millennia in time and had profound impacts on the cultures (and habitats) of both, especially the Western. Resolving this question is one of the most important tasks for culture historians, because the issue has profound implications not only for reconstruction of the true history of humankind but also for our overall understanding of the nature of human creativity and of how culture change occurs.
Those of us who have proposed that these kinds of ancient travels across the wide waters really took place and that their impacts were substantial are frequently confronted by extreme skepticism on the part of those who adhere to the mainline academic and popular supposition that such interaction between the peoples of the two sides of the Atlantic and the Pacific was impossible, and who may also object to the concept on other grounds. Accordingly, I have developed a “catechism” consisting of the isolationists’/independent-inventionists’ objections and by the transoceanic diffusionists’ appropriate responses. (The factual bases for these responses are not documented in this short note.) It is hoped that presenting these thoughts in this organized form will be useful for those debating the issue.
By Stephen C. Jett, NEARA Journal, Vol. 46 No.1, Summer, 2012
Read full article (PDF)